Horrific accounts of torture exposed in Iraq mirror stories of survivors treated by Medical Foundation
Dispatches: Iraq's Secret War Files', produced by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism for Channel 4 Television. To learn more please visit: www.iraqwarlogs.com
Over 400,000 secret US military documents have been published by Wikileaks revealing thousands of cases of torture and other ill-treatment that were documented by US personnel in Iraq. The US army appears to have adopted a "fragmented order' approach and took no further action after documenting that torture had occurred.
Keith Best, CEO of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, which has treated hundreds of Iraqi torture survivors in the UK, said: "The leaked documents present a horrific picture of torture conducted with impunity by Iraqi military, security services and police. The Medical Foundation is gravely concerned that the US authorities appear to have had knowledge of these practices but failed to intervene and has continued to transfer detainees into Iraqi custody. The US has a clear obligation under international law not to turn a blind eye to torture or to transfer detainees to a risk of torture. There must be a full investigation into the actions of the Iraqi and US personnel who conducted or failed to act on knowledge of torture."
The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, one of the world's largest torture treatment centres, has documented the severe physical and psychological torture of hundreds of Iraqi civilians who have arrived in the UK since 2003.
Keith Best said: "The horrific details of abuse included in the leaked documents are mirrored by the torture the Medical Foundation has documented through treating Iraqi survivors who have fled to the UK. Our Iraqi clients have been tortured through suspension and hanging, beating, whipping, electric shocks and burning. They have been subjected to isolation, sensory deprivation, rape, deprivation of sleep and fluids and forced to watch or hear others being tortured."
One survivor seen by the Medical Foundation who was tortured by militia, which he says had infiltrated the Iraqi government, had his leg mutilated with a drill and fingers cut off with shears. Another, tortured by Iraqi police, was suspended by his wrists from the ceiling with his arms bound behind his back and repeatedly dropped onto broken bottles and sharp objects. Of the Iraqi survivors who have received long-term treatment and care from the Medical Foundation since 2003, over half were Kurdish. The vast majority were shopkeepers, market traders or skilled workers.
The Medical Foundation is concerned that while the survivors of torture who have made it to the UK are benefiting from the care and treatment we offer, those many others who have been abused and remain in Iraq have been abandoned. Keith Best said "We call on the Iraqi, US and UK authorities to urgently address this situation and ensure those who have fallen victims under their watch get the rehabilitation they need and deserve." Survivors continue to suffer long after the torture has ended; many have sustained serious physical injuries and suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, insomnia, depression and experience many other difficulties that render them unable to function in their communities.
In July 2010, thousands of detainees were handed over to the Iraqi authorities from US custody. The UN Convention Against Torture, to which the US is party, prohibits torture and expressly obliges states not to transfer detainees to the jurisdiction of other states where there is a clear risk of torture or other ill-treatment.